Frank Macchia’s Grease Mechanix hotwire brassy funky fun on their self-titled debut
Picture a triple-size New Orleans brass band: six saxophones, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, electric guitar, drums and percussion playing all new original music that will have you shaking, rattling and rolling with modern rhythms and funky goodness. Add a touch of humor in the form of wacky lyrics, and you have Frank Macchia’s Grease Mechanix.
“I got the idea for this project after listening to some New Orleans brass bands and my favorite funk bands,” said Macchia, a three-time Grammy nominated composer/arranger/saxophonist. “The idea was to do a bunch of funk tunes where the tuba and bass sax would supply the bass lines, and rhythm guitar would do the chord component.”
Completed in a single day of intense recording at Entourage Studios, the Grease Mechanix self-titled album features some of L.A.’s finest jazz musicians. The record kicks off with “Buckin’ Bronco,” a tour de force showcasing all the players in the band in a crazed 7/4 groove reminiscent of Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” with a skip in the tom tom groove. Next is what Macchia describes as “my attempt to cash in on the zombie craze that’s sweeping the nation,” “Zombies Ate My Grandma.”
“Bad Juju” features an impressive sax solo by Brandon Fields, and “Fat Cat” is an odd-metered funk tune highlighting Alex Iles, Ken Rosser, Sal Lozano and Peter Erskine. “Squiggles” is a through-composed slinky line played by Bob Sheppard on sax and Macchia on contrabass clarinet. Macchia describes “I’m So Damn Mad” as “my ode to getting old and not being able to keep up with technology. I wanted to create a James Brown funk feel for this and the band abided!”
“Bucket o’ Tears” spotlights saxophonist Bob Sheppard, who takes this tune and makes it his own, complete with a beautiful cadenza at the end. “Atonal Dance Party” fuses 12-tone music with funk and features some crazed solos from Eric Marienthal and Walt Fowler.
“This project wouldn’t be possible if not for the two anchors of the band: Jay Mason on bass sax and Bill Reichenbach on tuba. They played some amazingly hard stuff,” said Macchia, who wrote ‘Sweet Patootie Waltz’ specifically to feature them. “Bulldog” is a feature for trumpeter extraordinaire Wayne Bergeron. “The idea on this one was a kind of super low end fat rock groove, complete with a bass section of tuba, bass trombone, bass sax, bari sax, baritone guitar and contrabass clarinet,” Macchia said. “Wayne is the screaming lead guitarist in this rock basher!” Finally there’s “Fatback Bubblebath,” originally intended as an instrumental until Macchia then I starting thinking about lyrics describing washing your pig before you ended up eating him for dinner, and the weird storyline ensued!
“I truly had a ball recording this and I want to thank all of these amazing musicians for giving their collective ‘grease’ on this project,” Macchia said.
“Grease Mechanix,” out Dec. 10, will be available at Amazon.com, iTunes, CDBaby.com and frankmacchia.net. You can watch the hilarious promo video for “Zombies Ate My Grandma” on YouTube.